Is death a solution to our troubles? It might surprise you to know how many people have been to a place in life where they just wanted to die. This life is tough at times and can send us into a state of despair. If you’ve ever been deeply despondent to the point of wanting to die, you’re not alone.
Consider four people in Scripture who wanted to die:
1. Moses (Numbers 11:13-15)
Wearied by the tough assignment of leading the children of Israel, Moses asked God to put him out of his miseries, to perform (so to speak) what Moses saw as a mercy killing.
“Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? They keep whining to me, saying, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!”
2. Job (Job 3:10-13, 16)
After the godly man Job suffered great loss (of his livelihood, wealth, family and health), he lamented and even cursed the day he was born:
“Curse that day for failing to shut my mother’s womb, for letting me be born to see all this trouble. “Why wasn’t I born dead? Why didn’t I die as I came from the womb? Why was I laid on my mother’s lap? Why did she nurse me at her breasts? Had I died at birth, I would now be at peace. I would be asleep and at rest. Why wasn’t I buried like a stillborn child, like a baby who never lives to see the light?”
3. Elijah (I Kings 19:1-4)
After a victorious mission for God, Elijah is threatened by the wicked queen, Jezebel and becomes so depressed that he asked God to end his life.
“Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.’”
4. Jonah (Jonah 4:1-10)
After Jonah warned the city of Ninevah about God’s judgment, the city repented and was able to avoid God’s wrath. But…
“Jonah became angry and he complained to the Lord about it: ‘Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive…’” The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”
“Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city. And the Lord God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah’s head, shading him from the sun. This eased his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant. But God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away. And as the sun grew hot, God arranged for a scorching east wind to blow on Jonah. The sun beat down on his head until he grew faint and wished to die. “Death is certainly better than living like this!” he exclaimed. Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?” “Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!” Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”
Each of these servants of God went to the author of life with their desire to end earthly existence. They evidently did not see it as a personal right to end their lives.
These are not attempted suicides but they are examples of people hitting the bottom with only one solution to their problems — death. In each case, God gave his servants a “perspective session.” He encouraged them and supplied their needs but he also confronted their wrong thinking about life.
Death is our solution
In a sense, death is our solution but it was the death of Christ in our place and for our sins that provided it. Death is the penalty for sin but Jesus Christ took the death penalty for us. And his death accomplished our forgiveness and secured righteous standing before God for all who receive Christ (John 1:12-13; Romans 3:19-26; II Corinthians 5:17-21).
But what Jesus did for us was also intended on radically changing our focus and purpose for life in this world: “He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them” (II Corinthians 5:15). This is the greatest perspective you can take on life! But to live with this transformed perspective one must die to self. In each of the examples above, God’s servants became so self-focused that they lost perspective and wanted to die. But it’s actually death to self-focus God wants for us. For this is where joy and purpose is found!
- Luke 9:23-24 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”
- John 12:24 “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
- Hebrews 12:1-3 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.”
- II Corinthians 1:3-4 “God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.